Canada’s Natural Resources Include Plenty of Fresh Water

Canada has a long list of different natural resources found in abundance throughout its provinces and territories. Oil, for example, is found in vast amounts in Alberta, with the world’s third largest recoverable reserves - or about 10% of the world's total share.

Minerals are another natural resource found in abundance in Canada. A few examples: Canada ranks 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the world for production of potash, uranium and platinum group metals like nickel, for example.

Perhaps the most important of all of Canada’s resources (essential to life) is its fresh water. Here’s some interesting facts and a great photo relating to fresh water in Canada.  


Canada’s Fresh Water: Visualized

Map: Chris Brackley / Canadian Geographic


Canada’s Fresh Water: Surface Area

With over 31,700 lakes larger than 3 square kilometres, about 9% of Canada’s land surface is covered with fresh water. Now that’s a lot of H2O!

Let’s put that into perspective:

  • At 9.985 million km2 (Canada’s land surface area), 9% would equate to 898,650 km2.
  • With Canadian Football League (CFL) fields sized at 8,152 m2, it would take approximately 110,236,752 of them to cover this surface area.
  • It would take about 159 Prince Edward Island’s (at 5,660 km2) or about 2.2 Newfoundland and Labrador’s (at 405,212 km2) to do the same.

If you were to consider the depth of these fresh water bodies and convert to volume, the sheer amount of fresh water Canada seems unfathomable.

So, just how much fresh water in Canada?


Canada's Fresh Waster: VolumeCanadian Natural Resources Good for Canada and the Global Environment

According to the federal government, Canada has about 20% of the world’s total fresh water resources. Current predictions estimate world fresh water reserves at 1.386 billion km3. However, only 7% of Canada’s total reserves are deemed to be renewable.

Every year, about 7% of the world’s renewable water supply is discharged by rivers in Canada at a rate of 105,000 cubic metres per second, or 105 million litres per second.

Once again, let's put that into perspective by comparison with an Olympic-sized swimming pool:

From Google, let's assume a width of 50x25x2 in metres (m) for such a pool. With 1 litre equal to 0.001 metres cubed, this pool would contain 2.5 million litres of water.

That's 42 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water being discharged by rivers in Canada every second. Say what!?


Non-Renewable Fresh Water in Canada

A majority of Canada’s fresh water resources contain fossil water found in non-renewables such as glaciers, underground aquifers and some lakes. But Canada is still in the top three when it comes to water yield rates on an annual basis.

Water yield is largely from melted ice and precipitation that flows above / below ground, gradually reaching bodies of water such as lakes and rivers. In Canada, water yield peaks in the springtime as rain increases and snow and ice melt.

Canada's Water Yield

Every year, Canada’s average water yield is estimated at 3,472 billion cubic metres. This is almost the same volume of water found in Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, giving Canada the world’s third largest renewable water supply behind Brazil (1st) and Russia (2nd).

On a per capita basis, Canada beats both countries however with approximately 109,850 cubic metres of renewable fresh water per person. That’s incredible! Also see:


 

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